It’s about movement. The UH Laboratory of Integrated Physiology, which researches how we move, is itself moving to become part of the National Center for Human Performance in the prestigious Texas Medical Center.
“We’ve got people investigating how people—while they’re walking—might slip and fall, and how we can prevent those,” said Charles Layne, professor and chair of the UH department of health and human performance. “We have people working with spinal cord injured patients in a variety of therapeutic techniques; we’ve also got people investigating postural control mechanisms which obviously affect the aging.”
The applications extend from the elderly to athletes to astronauts.
The expansion will provide opportunities for research partnerships with Medical Center entities to forge studies in such cutting edge areas as Virtual Reality and for graduate and undergraduate students to enhance their research abilities.
“We’re hopeful that our presence in the National Center for Human Performance will provide a focal point for multidisciplinary studies related to human neuromotor control,” said Professor William Paloski, leader of the LIP research team in the National Center for Human Performance. “By bringing together scientists, engineers and clinicians in this way, we work to improve the quality of life for those disabled by the effects of injury, disease or aging.”
Paloski’s research investigates normal and abnormal sensory-motor control of balance and locomotion, with applications to aging populations and space flight. Paloski spent 23 years at NASA’s Johnson Space Center as a researcher in its neuroscience laboratory studying postural stability control and sensory motor performance in astronauts during and after space flight.
Assistant professor Adam Thrasher investigates biomechanics and electrical stimulation of paralyzed muscles to restore function. Thrasher works with spinal cord injury patients and those with Parkinson’s disease. His research has used imaging software to measure the pressure exerted in the gluteus muscles when a spinal cord patient sits for prolonged periods. Currently, he and his team are investigating walking function in those with incomplete spinal cord injuries.
Assistant Professor Jian Liu investigates gait analysis and the biomechanics of slips and falls. Lieu conducts occupational studies to calculate the fall-risk assessment in the elderly or those with mobility challenges. Using “fall event detection technology” Liu examines how the elderly and those with walking difficulties can prevent falls and the injuries related to falls.
“The opportunities in our new center are going to be tremendous,” Layne said.
The Laboratory of Integrated Physiology is part of what’s happening at the University of Houston. I’m Marisa Ramirez.
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